Most of our patients think that once the braces are off, they never have to come back to the orthodontist again, but that’s actually not the case. Post-braces is a crucial time period after your braces are removed because teeth have a strong tendency to move back to their original position after being freed from the brackets and wires.
Follow these post-braces tips to help not lose the straight smile that you worked so hard for and prevent your teeth from shifting after your braces are removed.
Why Retainers Matter
The initial 6 months once your braces are off is the most susceptible time period for your teeth to shift back to their original positions. There is a significant variation from patient to patient, but the majority of patients will need to wear their retainers full-time during this period. You will only need to wear your retainers around the clock for a set period after you get your braces off. After that, you will graduate to wearing your retainers only at night.
Your teeth need help settling into their new positions and it takes time for your bone and the tissues that surround your teeth to become accustomed to the new alignment of your bite. The retainers help everything stabilize and hold in place until this process can happen.
The first month after braces is an especially crucial time, and without wearing your retainers, we guarantee your teeth will move!
What To Expect During a Retainer Check Appointment
This type of appointment is usually very quick and easy, but also vital in heading off any potential complications that may arise after your braces have been removed. The sooner a developing problem is recognized and dealt with, the less difficult it is to remedy. A poorly fitting retainer over a long period of time could result in enough relapse that our retainers will not be able to regain the original alignment.
This could mean:
- A new set of retainers need to be made that are properly fitted
- Braces need to be replaced again to re-treat or realign teeth
- Your teeth will no longer be in the finished aligned position as when you first got your braces off
Post-treatment checks vary from one orthodontist to another, but you can probably expect to see our orthodontist for follow up visits at 5 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 1-year post-braces.
Maintaining a Straight Smile – For Life
Ensuring your treatment results last a lifetime requires some additional work on your part. Teeth shift, and they need ongoing maintenance to remain in a straight, perfect alignment. If you quit wearing your retainer, your teeth will eventually begin to shift. In fact, most adult orthodontics patients actually had braces when they were younger. As time passes, factors emerge that we can’t always control and they end up impacting our bites.
Help minimize the effects of teeth shifting by:
Wearing Your Retainer
Once your braces are off, the teeth no longer have a source of constant pressure that the braces were applying to move and shift them into perfect alignment. If there is more space in the jaw, teeth are more likely to shift and your retainers are the simplest way to keep your teeth in their beautiful new formation.
Maintaining Your Retainers
Cleaning your retainers properly an daily will help keep them in great shape. Always keep them in a safe place as lost or broken retainers are a common problem and can become expensive to continually replace. Keeping your retainers in their case rather than on your plate while eating or your school lunch tray will keep them in a safe place until you’re ready to put them back in.
Switching To A Mouth Guard
In the years after braces, you may want to switch from a nighttime retainer to a mouth guard. If you have a problem with grinding your teeth, a night guard will keep your enamel protected while also maintaining our straight smile.
Take Notice Of Shifting Teeth
Get in touch with Thomas Orthodontics if something seems off, or if your retainers are no longer properly fitting. It’s important to know that teeth do typically shift gently immediately after you get your braces off, so wearing your retainers consistently during those vulnerable first few months is vital.